The South Carolina Lowcountry is home to many species of reptiles.
We are all familiar with the alligator. And our adorable green tree frogs are recognizable. But this specific reptile may be a little more difficult to know what it is for those visiting or new to the area. Its body is snake-like, but in fact, it is a lizard.
They are also called slowworms, alligator lizards and glass lizards. The term “glass lizard” comes from their easily-broken tail. The tail is so fragile that it can break off without ever being touched. It is difficult to find a specimen with an undamaged tail. These lizards have independently lost limbs or reduced them to the point of being of no use in locomotion.
At a glance, the legless lizard looks just like a snake. They forage on the ground. They propel themselves by wriggling their bodies like a snake, all be it a bit more awkwardly.
But, they are distinguishable by the following characteristics:
- possessing eyelids
- possessing external ear openings
- lack of broad belly scales
- notched rather than forked tongue
- having two more-or-less-equal lungs
- having a very long tail (while snakes have a long body and short tail)
The legless lizards you see on Daufuskie Island are a part of the Anguidae family.
They are native to the Northern Hemisphere. Common characteristics of this group include a reduced supra-temporal arch, striations on the medial faces of tooth crowns, osteoderms, and a lateral fold in the skin.
These lizards are known carnivorous or insectivorous foragers, feeding primarily on insects, although larger species have been known to feed on small reptiles and amphibians.